ATHENS, W.Va. – GEAR UP Southern West Virginia will hold a kick-off event for 6 th and 7 th
graders from Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Summers, and Wyoming Counties on January 27 at the
Raleigh County Convention Center beginning at 10:30 a.m. The kick-off celebration will
introduce students, teachers and the community to a new project called GEAR UP Southern
West Virginia.
The highlight of the day will be scholarship giveaways. Concord University and New River
Community and Technical College will each give out two $500 scholarships. The day will
include various activities including games, raffles and prizes. EJ Carrion—best-selling author,
successful entrepreneur, and preeminent thought leader on student success—will serve as the
key-note speaker for this event.
“We are beyond excited to kick off this amazing program,” said Kristen O’Sullivan, director
of GEAR UP SWV. “We know GEAR UP works and will change what’s possible for our 4,000

students. These changes will have an incredible ripple effect throughout families and
communities in southern West Virginia.”
  Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a
federal grant designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed
in public and private colleges, universities, and community colleges immediately after high
school. GEAR UP SWV will help students from southern West Virginia find the tools they need
to attend college or gain other postsecondary education and succeed.
The GEAR UP SWV team will support teachers and administrators, academic and cultural
enrichment for students, and help for parents and students in becoming familiar with college
options, financial aid, and transition concerns.
GEAR UP SWV grantees will serve an entire cohort of students beginning no later than
seventh grade and following the cohort through high school. The grant is a one-time award that
began in September 2022 and will continue through August 2029.
Media is invited and encouraged to attend the event. We can receive media as early as 9:30
am on site and as late as 1:00 p.m. For more information, contact Jessica Lilly, GEAR UP SWV
Communications Manager, at or 304-384-5981.